+121 Marco Beltran (8-5) vs. -141 Deiveson Alcantara (11-0)
Marco Beltran: TUF Latin America semi-finalist Marco “Psycho” Beltran recently had his three fight UFC win streak snapped this past November in his native Mexico City. Beltran fell to late replacement Joe Soto who caught Beltran in a heel hook that immediately forced the tap from the 30 year old Mexican prospect.
Beltran is a long striker who’s work with Yair Rodriguez is apparent in his high flying striking style. He has worked extensively with Wrestling coach Mike Valle to improve upon his weakest link. This will be Beltran’s Flyweight debut, at 5’8″ he will be head and shoulders above his 125 pound opponents.
Deiveson Alcantara: Undefeated Brazilian prospect Deiveson “God of War” Alcantara will make his UFC debut after going 11-0 with ten finishes in homeland. Alcantara rose to prominence on the worldwide MMA scene when he scored the first ever pimp slap knock out at Jungle Fight 90 (see photo).
Third cousin of Iuri and Ildemir , Deiveson will be an exciting addition to the growing Flyweight roster. Much like his older cousin’s Alcantara’s ground game is his bread and butter, but this updated Alcantara has five knockouts to his credit, adding a wrinkle to his game that his cousins don’t have.
The Fight: Beltran will enjoy a significant height and reach advantage that he will make the most of. If his Wrestling has improved under Valle he should have no problem staying on his feet and winning a kickboxing match. Beltran Unanimous Decision
-255 Luan Chagas (14-1-1) vs. +215 Jim Wallhead (29-10)
Luan Chagas: Brazilian prospect Luan “Tarzan” Chagas went to war with Erick Silva in a back and forth fight of the night battle last September. Chagas had many moments in the fight and almost finished Silva with strikes on multiple occasions, but in the end it was Silva who had enough gas left in the tank to pick up the rear naked choke in the third.
The 23 year old Chagas is 0-1-1 in his first two UFC bouts, his striking is flashy and unorthodox, which will leave him vulnerable to the take down once he reaches higher levels of competition. But his ability to hang with the world class grappler Sergio Moraes suggest his submission defense is stout if he can mange his energy expenditure he could go far.
Jim Wallhead: London Shootfighter “Judo” Jim Wallhead will return to the octagon for the second time, following a heartbreaking split decision loss to Jessin Ayari in his September debut. The English vet went punch for punch with the young German fighter, but failed to land enough significant strikes to swing the judges in his favor.
Wallhead has seen an uptick in his success since he began training with the London Shootfighters team three years ago. Despite his Judo moniker, Wallhead will gladly exchange on the feet and is a strong candidate to pick up a few fight of the night bonuses in his future octagon bouts.
The Fight: Both of these guys have solid ground games but prefer to sort it out on the feet. Wallhead is the more technical and seasoned, but he has also accrued a great deal of punishment in his ten plus years in the sport. Chagas will be quicker to the punch and pick up his first victory in the octagon. Chagas TKO 2nd
-125 Viviane Pereira (12-0) vs. +105 Jamie Moyle (4-1)
Viviane Pereira: Undefeated former XFC Strawweight champion Viviane Pereira showed extreme mental and physical resilience in her UFC debut victory over former title contender Valerie Letourneau. Pereira was dominated in the first round, but managed to stage a heroic comeback to pick up a split decision.
The 5’1″ Brazilian dynamo has been perfect thus far in her four year career. Despite her successes at Strawweight Pereira’s small stature would make her a prime candidate for a 115 pound Atomweight division if it were to be created in the UFC.
Jamie Moyle: TUF 23 Alum Jamie Moyle gutted out a impressive debut win over Hawaiian Kailin Curran. Moyle displayed great heart and fortitude out working Curran despite an early head butt that opened up a sizable gash above her left eye.
The Syndicate MMA fighter is still very green, but what she lacks in technique she makes up for with a grueling pace and excellent cardio. Once Moyle tightens up her striking it will be intriguing to see how far she can go in the sport.
The Fight: These ladies have a very similar skill set and body type. Moyle will be able to use her superior Wrestling to control this fight from top position and should avoid the cardio problems that the weight cut depleted Letourneau experienced because she was a natural 125’er. Moyle Unanimous Decision
-310 #13 Iuri Alcantara (34-7) vs. +260 Brian Kellher (16-7)
Iuri Alcantara: The elder of the Alcantara brothers, Iuri pulled off a memorable come from behind submission win in his last victory over Luke Sanders. The first round and a half Alcantara ate massive amounts of leather attempting to lock up Sanders’s leg to no avail. But Alcantara must have seen a vulnerability in Sanders’s leg lock defense, because he continued at it and eventually sunk in a knee bar and got the immediate tap.
Alcantara’s victories over top guys like Ricardo Llamas, Wilson Reis and Francisco Trinaldo have proven he is an elite talent in the sport, but he has faltered in big fights recently and has been relegated to a gate keeper role. If he can stave off another young gun Alcantara should receive a shot against a top 10 opponent.
Brian Kellher: Ring of Combat Bantamweight champion Brian “Boom” Kellher will make his UFC debut filling in for Felipe Arantes on three weeks notice. Kellher has built his reputation in the Northeast regional circuit where he has won his last six fights including a decision victory over recent UFC newcomer Andre Soukhamthath.
It has been a long road to the octagon for the BJJ Purple Belt, Kellher had hopes of a call up following a 2015 spinning back fist knock out victory in front of Dana and the “Looking for a Fight” crew. The wait is over for the 30 year old and now he will have the opportunity to show he belongs in with the world’s best fighters.
The Fight: Kellher is solid everywhere and lands with very unorthodox strikes, but Alcantara has tricky striking of his own, backed by an unusually long reach. Kellher should do well in his UFC career, but he will be overmatched on the ground and outclassed on the feet in this one. Alcantara Unanimous Decision
+170 #10 Johnny Eduardo (28-10) vs. -200 Matthew Lopez (9-1)
Johnny Eduardo: Nova Unaio’s Johnny Eduardo bounced back from a 2015 submission loss to Aljamain Sterling by scoring a TKO over Armenian Judoka Manny Gamburyan. Eduardo tore up Manny’s lead leg with low kicks, before he dropped a charging Gamburyan with a jab and finished him with brief ground and pound.
The 20+ year veteran of the sport has seen it all since his 1996 debut in Brazil. But in his five years in the UFC injuries have prevented the 36 year old from putting together any momentum. If he can stay healthy Eduardo could be primed for a late in the career title run.
Matthew Lopez: Former RFA standout Matthew Lopez recovered from an early knock down to defeat Canadian Mitch Gagnon at UFC 206. Lopez ate a hard shot in the first, but was able to get his wits about him and win the second and third rounds with his dominant Wrestling.
The High School national champion Wrestler was a long time student of Mark Munoz at the Reign Training Center. Since Munoz’s gym closed in 2015 Lopez has moved his camp to the Colorado’s Genesis Training Center with famed striking coach Trevor Whitman. Also helping Lopez with his striking is former WSOF champ and newly signed UFC Lightweight Justin Gaethje who will be his main training partner for this fight.
The Fight: Like all Nova Unaio fighters Eduardo’s take down defense is on point, he will be able to stuff the majority of Lopez’s take downs and on the feet Lopez may have improved his striking as of late but it wont be enough to make up for 20+ years of Muay Thai training. Eduardo Unanimous Decision
-225 Antonio Carlos Junior (8-2) vs. +190 Eric Spicely (10-2)
Antonio Carlos Junior: TUF: Brazil 3 heavyweight winner Antonio Carlos Junior out pointed young Italian prospect Marvin Vettori in his last bout at UFC 207. Carlos Junior showcased his world class BJJ controlling the rising prospect on the mat for the majority of their December contest.
“Shoeface” as his people affectionately know him as, has grown drastically since his 2014 reality show victory. Now down two divisions from Heavyweight and training extensively with Din Thomas at ATT, Carlos Junior feels he is more than prepared for this opportunity to avenge his friend Thiago Santos who was submitted by Spicely last year.
Eric Spicely: TUF: 24 semi-finalist Eric “Zebrinha” Spicely is coming off of back to back first round submission victories of Thiago Santos and most recently Alessio Di Chirico in December. The dangerous BJJ Black Belt is now 2-1 in his first three octagon performances.
The New England based Spicely has exceeded most people’s expectations and is now one fight away from earning a spot in the Middleweight top 15. Apart from training five days a week, Spicely does professional Wrestling on the weekends which may help with his post fight victory call out performance if he can win in this possible breakout fight.
The Fight: These two will cancel each others BJJ skills out and most likely end up engaging in a striking battle. We haven’t seen much in the way of striking from either man, but Carlos Junior’s size and strength advantage will give him the slight edge in the clinch and a very close decision. Carlos Junior Split Decision
+145 #3 Raphael Assuncao (24-5) vs. -170 Maroln Moraes (18-4-1)
Raphael Assuncao: Perennial top five Bantamweight and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Rapahel Assuncao used his less celebrated striking game to eek out a split decision victory over Aljamian Sterling at UFC on FOX 23.
Assuncao has been one fight away from a title fight multiple times (briefly scheduled to fight Barao for the belt) but has come up just short every time. A win against a big name like Moraes could set up a number one contender fight against former champ Dominick Cruz.
Marlon Moraes: Former WSOF Bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes finally crosses over to the dark side to test himself against the world’s elite 135 pound fighters. Moraes has built a reputation as the best Bantamweight fighter outside of the UFC by capturing the WSOF title and defending it successfully five times.
Moraes is the total package, he is a BJJ Brown Belt under Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida and a lifelong Muay Thai practitioner. Currently riding a 13 fight win streak the New Jersey residents call up is long over due. A win for Moraes would give us a new exciting title contender in a somewhat stagnant division.
The Fight: Moraes will be taller, stronger and faster in this fight that will play out mostly as a Kickboxing match. If Assuncao can get the fight to the ground he will not be able to hold him there long. Moares out points Assuncao with superior striking. Moraes Unanimous Decision